Odd Alliances in the Food Safety Bill: Republicans and Hippies Unite Against Big Agriculture

Jillian Bandes
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Posted: Nov 16, 2010 6:31 PM
The Food Safety Bill is up for a vote tomorrow, and the Tester Amendment, which would allow for some exemptions for family farms, looks like it will survive. To be clear: the Tester Amendment does not exempt family farms from all of the burdensome regulations in the bill -- it just allows them to be exempt from some of those regulations.

Here's a snippet from a coalition of over 30 food industry groups, such as the National Chicken Council and the National Grain and Feed Association, who are speaking out against the Tester Amendment:
We believe technical assistance, training, extended transition timeframes for compliance and financial support are more appropriate ways to assist small businesses throughout the food distribution chain to comply with important food safety standards.
In other words... the food industry groups are advocating for slow imposition of pain, instead of immediate pain. Now, here's the Cornucopia Institute, a progressive farm policy research group based in Wisconsin.
This bill, as we have noted before, would impose extremely burdensome and unnecessary requirements on the thousands of small farmers and food processors who are producing safe, nutrient-dense foods for their local communities — in fact, it may force some of these producers out of business.
Here's Sen. Tom Coburn, one of the main conservative opponents of the bill:
I am not tired of taking the hits for holding up this bill. We can't be perfect on food, but we can be a whole lot better. This bill can solve some of the problems, but it is not complete. It hasn't looked at the levels it needs to straighten out the bureaucracy on food safety.